THE Commission on Elections is not yet ready to classify the killing of Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay Mayor Randy Climaco as election-related and has asked the Philippine National Police to assess the motive for the assassination.
“Not all incidents like that are election-related even if they are involving elected officials,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez. “We are being very careful about that. We don’t want to give an impression that our election will be violent.”
Climaco was killed in an ambush on Monday after filing his certificate of candidacy to run for vice mayor in next year’s elections. Aside from Climaco, Vice Mayor Abison Abduraok, a driver, and two escorts were also hurt in the ambush.
Jimenez said the Comelec and the PNP is scheduled to hold a command conference soon to discuss security preparations and identify areas that may be declared as election hotspots or areas of concern.
Meanwhile, PNP chief Ricardo Marquez said he had instructed all regional commanders to beef-up its present police complements in populated centers to deter lawless elements including gun-for-hire groups who would be utilize by some unscrupulous politicians to advance their wicked goal.
“We have instructed our units on the ground to prepare for this [political exercise],” said Marquez. “So the instruction to the regional directors is deploy additional troops there so they could project more presence in the area.”
Marquez said he will be meeting with the intelligence branch “to determine areas of concern and other factors that impact the elections.”
The PNP is also assessing the gravity of intense partisan political rivalry among political aspirants in different government post in the 2016 elections, a report he said they would be coming up after the lapse of the filling of COC.
With all the challenges the PNP would be confronting ahead of the 2016 elections, Marquez said they would be proposing a joint task force with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Comelec.
At the same time, police investigators said the gun shots at the vehicle that carried Climaco and the eight others was concentrated on the seat occupied by the mayor.
“The line of fire was concentrated toward the vehicle of Mayor Climaco who was seated at the passenger side killing him on the spot and wounding other persons on board,” said Insp. Dhalan Samuddin of the Zamboanga regional police.
Aside Climaco’s car, a pick-up was also peppered with bullets while the two other vehicles in the convoy were also hit with bullets.
The convoy was on their way to Barangay Libertad coming from Barangay Batungan when ambushed at 3:30 p.m. upon reaching Purok 7 in Barangay Cayamcam, about seven kilometers from the main national road.
Although investigators suspected the motive to be political, Samuddin said there is no conclusive evidence yet to say so. Dozens of spent shells of bullets from M16 rifle were recovered from the positions of the ambushers.
Asked whether they believe that the 2016 elections will be “bloodier” than the previous ones, Jimenez said “I’m willing to suspend judgment on that until I get more facts. I cannot make a bleak forecast because a politician died.”